The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned attacks on police officers and called for peaceful protest, in a statement released on Friday.
According to the police, four uniformed officers have been attacked in the past week, sustaining injuries that required hospital treatment.
The most recent attack took place on Thursday night near Malé city’s carnival area. A police officer on traffic patrol was stabbed in the back of his neck, and has now been flown abroad for treatment, police have reported.
Three men armed with knives entered another police officer’s house on Wednesday, but the police officer was unharmed, police said. A total of 16 have been arrested over these attacks.
The MDP said it recognizes “high levels of public animosity towards police officers with regards to their involvement in the February 7 coup, overthrowing the first democratically elected Government in the Maldives, and their subsequent brutal crackdown on unarmed civilians”.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned on February 7 after the army joined a police mutiny. Nasheed later claimed he was forced to resign under duress. He led a march through Malé city on February 8, which MDP claims was dispersed with brutal force.
However, the MDP urged the public to express themselves through peaceful protest. Further, the party expressed concern over police’s alleged attempts to frame the MDP in relation to attacks on police.
President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has accused Nasheed’s supporters of attacks on police officers on Twitter. A President’s Office statement on 19 March also accused “sympathisers of MDP” of torching the Auction Shop in Malé.
The MDP claimed women detained on 19 March were sexually harassed. “This includes demanding some women detained on Monday, 19 March, to strip and squat a number of times while under police custody, and the use of inappropriate language,” the statement read.
“The MDP would like to remind the Police of their responsibility in upholding the law, and respecting the fundamental rights of all those detained,” the statement said.
The party noted an increase in the use of Stop and Search powers and condemned it as “a form of intimidation against MDP activists,” and called on the police to follow “appropriate behavior” as outlined in the Police Powers Act.
Police spokesperson Hassan Haneef said all search procedures were conducted according to the law, and denied sexual harassment claims. He also said the public can lodge complaints with the Human Rights Commission and Police Integrity Commission if they had been mistreated.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s interim chairperson MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik has for the first time spoken to the media after he was brutally beaten up by the Maldives police during what was meant to be a “peaceful march around Male’” after yesterday’s MDP National Council meeting.
Manik, who was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital late yesterday afternoon but had regained some stability, spoke to local media Raajje TV about how violently the police had dealt with him while he was accompanied by the former president Mohamed Nasheed and former party chairperson and MP Mariya Ahmed Didi.
Moosa said that when the police started beating the protesters and spraying pepper spray without warning and using excessive force in dismantling the protests Nasheed, Didi and himself had ran into a tile shop in the east of the local market area.
“While we were in there the police came, sprayed pepper spray and started beating us. We ran into the road, to the east of the market, and hid in a shop… selling tiles… if… if I remember correctly. I walked in first followed by President Nasheed and Mariya. We went into the back and stayed in the storage area”, Moosa said with a weak voice.
Moosa continued that police officers addressed them with foul language when Nasheed asked the officers not to hurt them. The officers openly said that Moosa was on their “hit list” and that they wanted to kill him, before taking three to four punches on his face, Moosa said.
“….When they police looked at me [to hit me] the President said, ‘Don’t hurt [him]’ and they… hurled abuse at the President. Maari said the same thing. I said, ‘If you want to beat us beat me first’ and by then they had already hit me on the face three or four times. They pointed their fingers at me and said, ‘You are a person we want to kill’…” Moosa continued.
Although the police were beating him, Moosa said that an MNDF person came to his rescue and tried to stop the police officers. “They did not let me go and continued beating me. And I saw an MNDF [army] person. He ran to me hugged me and said, “don’t hit, and don’t hit!’ ”, Manik said.
Moosa said that the officers enjoyed taking turns hitting his genital area and one police officer who was in plain clothes tried to stab something (a stick or a pole) into his head, and he was fortunate enough to have ended up with a two inch gash on his head instead.
According to local media, Moosa’s family has said he has been flown to Singapore for further medical treatment. The MP for Hulhuhenveiru constituency, Moosa has been a vocal critic of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom and the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed. He has also been active in MDP’s campaign to reform judiciary.
“While we were in there the police came, sprayed pepper spray and started beating us. We ran into the road, to the east of the market, and hid in a shop… selling tiles… if… if I remember correctly. I walked in first followed by President Nasheed and Mariya [Ahmed Didi]. We went into the back and stayed in the storage area.
“Police came in after a while and asked the people at the counter where Maryia and them were. When the people at the counter did not respond the police charged into the back of the store and I said to the President, “They are coming to kill us and so I will just let them do what they want to do” and I walked out. The president followed saying, “Moosa don’t go alone”, followed by Mariya.
“When they police at me [to hit me] the President said, “Don’t hurt [him]” and they… hurled abuse at the President. Maari said the same thing. I said, “If you want to beat us beat me first”, and by then they had already hit me on the face three or four times. They pointed their fingers at me and said, “You are a person we want to kill”. The army person? It was police… they were police not army personnel.
“It was a very narrow path and they pushed me out, beating me. They threw me out on the doorstep and hit me in the groin with their boots. Two policemen were holding my hands, spread, and one person held me by the back, and everyone (police) was beating me. The people on the dhonis [boats] saw everything. One person hit me here… on the ribs… with his boots. By the time I had my wits about me I could not breathe and I begged them to stop…. I pleaded that I was dying. They said, “We want to kill you. Do not think you can behave like you do and get away. You will have to die today”. They did not let me go and continued beating me. And I saw an MNDF [army] person. He ran to me hugged me and said, “Don’t hit, and don’t hit”.
“We reached MTCC [a local company] by then and they continued to beat me… I was surrounded. They were hurling abuse at me and spraying pepper spray into my eyes. One person forced my mouth open and sprayed… I fell over, coughing. The MNDF person was trying to protect me. Then came a police person in plain clothes… he was wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt… I know him. He jumped… and he tried to… and he said I want to embed this into your brain (probably a stick or a pole). It broke open a gash of about two inches and it hit the shoulder of the MNDF person. He was hurt too. And then… the blood was gushing out… and I fell onto the road. And they stomped onto my hand. They all seem to really enjoy hitting me in the groin.
“Then I did not know where they were taking me, two persons were dragging me by the hands. Then they got into a dispute within themselves. One person was saying not to hit me. With my knowledge, a bunch of them in Star Force attire, some in plain blue and another bunch of them in the… the dark blue uniform continued to beat me.
When the blood started flowing [from the groin] they asked me to, “Cover it with your hand… and you will die in a bit”. Then… then I did not know what they were saying. After that I did not know what was going on. By the time we reached the bus I had nothing left in me. There was a brother [relative] in the bus and that’s why I survived. When I got here I was in a lot of pain. Now… now… my spine hurts… it hurts a lot. And when I relieve myself I bleed. I am in a lot of pain. Insha Allah, I will be well soon.”